John Few: The best of three good Supreme Court candidates

Making a Supreme Court pick ain’t easy. It’s no secret that here in the Blogland, we like our judges tough on criminals, fair to everyone in the courtroom, and competent jurists who interpret and apply law, not make it. When three candidates were released from screening to compete for an upcoming vacancy on the state Supreme Court, we decided to do our own homework to help decide who we thought would make the better judge:

  • 13th Circuit Court Judge John Few
  • Appeals Court Judge Kaye Hearn
  • 9th Circuit Court Judge Deadra Jefferson
After nearly a week of phone calls and emails to solicit opinions from various members of the South Carolina Bar, there was a ton of feedback about all three candidates. All of the feedback was certainly helpful, a lot of it was insightful, and none of it was negative. All three were well-regarded for their legal knowledge, competence as judges, fairness, respect for parties, and their willingness to rule according to the law. Most importantly, all of them were considered fair judges from a law-and-order perspective, which is an important criteria in the Blogland.

To help make a decision, we compared rulings made by two of the candidates about an issue of personal liberty: smoking in private businesses. We’re not big about smoking, but we believe it’s a decision left up to the business owners and their patrons. In 2006, Judge Jefferson ruled in support of a Sullivan’s Island smoking ban and in favor of restricting personal liberties. Three months later, Judge Few ruled against a smoking ban in Greenville, citing a state law which prohibited local legislation. In this, Judge Few ruled correctly by interpreting the law as written, as well as upholding individual liberties.

Judge Few has earned a reputation as recognizing the importance of “new media” in the maintenance of the American tradition of a free press. Last year, he ruled in favor of allowing a reporter from the Rock Hill Herald to blog from the courtroom, for which he was thanked here in the Blogland.

Yours truly has met with Few in the past and found him thoughtful and knowledgable. It seems consistent with what we’ve seen and others have told us about him.

It is also important to note that while most respondents had no clear favorites that they were willing to recommend, those that did supported Judge Few. These insights, along with personal experiences and independent research, speak in favor of his candidacy.

While legislators have three good candidates to choose from, Judge Few comes across the finish line just inches ahead of the pack. The Blogland encourages legislators to do their homework about all three candidates before they cast their votes, but if they want a recommendation, he’s the one recommended by this blog to fill this judicial slot.

4 Response to "John Few: The best of three good Supreme Court candidates"

  1. Matthew 19/4/09 11:45
    Earl, I think your endorsement of a Supreme Court candidate as a blogger would carry muc more weight if we instituted popular election for Supreme Court justices. I've heard legislators get all high-and-mighty about how SC has the best method for choosing its judges. I trst the public voting rather than legisltors cutting deals over how to get their contributors or home-town candidates in a judgeship.

    North Carolina elects its justices, Georgia does too, so does Alabama, and on and on. I wish some reformer in the legislature would push this issue.
  2. Earl Capps 19/4/09 11:52
    Matthew - this is, from what I've been told, well-read at the State House and was fairly inflential in at least two races last year.

    I used to support judicial election, but having spent a lot of time around this state's electoral process, I don't know if the principle would work out the same way in practice.

    Upper-level judicial races in Illinois and Texas became major bidding contests between competing special interest groups. As we saw groups spend five figures on TV ads in Spartanburg to influence the race to fill the Supreme seat held by Beatty, it could be a warning of what could break out here if we put judicial seats on the ballot.
  3. mg 19/4/09 13:27
    I agree the best
  4. Anonymous 20/5/09 16:06
    Consider for a minute the purpose judges serve, and the SC process may seem more desireable. The law in the state, is written by the majority (through popularly elected reps.). Judges serve to either (1) interpret the law or (2) ensure that the law as written does not impinge on the rights afforded to indviduals (via constitution or general human rights). The process we have, much like the fed gov't serves to prevent the majority from walking over the minority - by not having the majority both write the law and apply the law.
    Consider the civil rights movement. At the time there were countless laws written by the "majority" institutionalizing its views. If judges had to answer to a majority then they would be forced to uphold those laws - if the judges have to answer to the majority, who protects the minority from the majority?

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